The Copenhagen Summit is over and the next summit is still far from sight.
So, what has been the effect of the summit and what serious actions have nations
and companies taken? Whether companies and the Indian government made the right
noise still remains a big question. So, in view of all these perspectives, it's
time to put the moves of various authorities under the scanner.
India has been participating in various global meetings that have been held
post the Copenhagen Summit to try and move towards a consensus so that a fair,
ambitious and binding global deal can be reached in December 2010, in Mexico
City, that will limit global warming to 2Â° C, as necessary. Locally, India has
set up an expert group housed in the Planning Commission that will prepare an
action plan to move India towards a low carbon economy, which will be
implemented during the 12th Five Year Plan.
“As part of this Plan, India aims to cut emissions intensity by 20-25 percent
by 2020 on the 2005 levels. As part of this target, India is also committing to
a very ambitious plan on clean energy sources,” informed Nisha Agrawal, CEO,
Oxfam India. India's current emission level is 1.1 tonne per capita per year and
if India has to reduce emission by 20 percent then it has to work out a 0.22 per
capita per year decrease till 2020. Whereas, if the same is compared with that
of the US whose current level stands at 20 per capita per year, which if treated
to 20 percent reduction will result to four tonne per capita per year, is
According to Kishore Butani, Founder, www.carbonyatra.com said, “India and
other emerging economies are being asked to make larger emission cuts than
normal. A global deal is now unlikely at the next big climate conference in
Cancun at the end of this year. The US was to pass a climate bill, but that too
is stuck at the drafting stage. So all these factors mean that Indian renewable
energy developers, are not sure about the viability of their carbon credits sale
The Government of India in various forums and in its communication to United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has made it clear that
it supports the Copenhagen Accord but looks at it as a step towards
strengthening the Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC and not as a substitute to the
two track process.
Apart from that India, China, Brazil and South Africa have decided to reopen the
climate debate at a special session in Brazil in June.
The EU and the US want India to announce some adherence measures, which
includes monitoring and verification of cuts in GHG emissions, but the US
currently has no carbon legislation in place.Environment ministers of the BASIC
countries-namely, Brazil, South Africa, India and China-have said that a legally
binding global agreement to limit climate change is needed to be completed by
2011, and have now said that they are not willing to wait for the US to announce
some legislation. Butani added, “Remember that the Kyoto carbon market is a
success story for Indian companies and this was accomplished without the US on
board. The world should now move ahead with or without the US, since the US has
never and will never enter the compliance carbon market.”
Under the Scanner
The reaction to the Copenhagen Summit can be broadly classified as that of
inaction and action. Inaction can be described on the part of the Environment
Ministry as a statement was issued but there have been not much happenings on
the companies' front and even the country as a whole. In other words, there has
been a sort of non-commitment towards making things legally binding. Though the
government has said that they will reduce carbon footprint by 20 percent but no
steps have been taken in this direction to make it legally binding.
“In fact there have been no specific goals set by corporates from any sector.
But if you consider IT companies in the Europe, the US, etc, they have set
internal targets for themselves that are in line with the country's target,”
informed Akash Chander, Lead Business Development and Head, Sustainability
Initiative, Logica India. “In fact cheaper and greener technology should be made
available to companies in all nations. Availability of technology at reasonable
costs for India will enable to bring down emissions in an altruistic manner,”
Currently, in India no specific action has been taken on this front. No
internal goals have been set but more diligence has been adopted by the
government while approving large or major projects. Even the government has not
made specific moves. Tax benefits and subsidies are being offered but this is
not an outcome of the summit but it existed beforehand.
The Road Ahead
According to Butani, “When the carbon market expires in 2012, and if there
is no new market post 2012, exporters from India and China could be subject to a
carbon tax when supplying goods to the EU.” Though, India will continue to
engage the US and EU in climate change talks, but will take a leaf out of China
when it comes to acting on climate change. India plans to launch a public
database of the country's worst polluters, as being done by China.